There's certain people that you might label with the pejorative "game snobs", whether justly or unjustly. And among that group, Five Nights at Freddy's is a game that they're virtually obligated to hate for looking backwards to the brainless evolutionary dead-end gameplay of Sega CD / early PC FMV games and the cheap "jump scares" of early 90s horror games.

That's not why I personally give the game a low score, though there are very valid points to be made about it sourcing material that should have stayed buried in the past. No, I gave it the 2/5 just because it honestly and legitimately bored me stiff right from the first minutes.

The best thing about the game is the premise, illogical though it may be (why does this presumably low-paid security guy keep coming back night after night?) Something about the idea of the animatronic figures at places like Chuck E. Cheese, which were already a shade on the creepy side in their own right, going rogue and murdering anyone they encounter by indelicately stuffing them into an empty bear suit is legitimately pretty creative and effective as a horror setting.

The inspiration entirely ends there, though. The actual gameplay is as sleep-inducing as it gets, relying solely on the pop-scares to carry the day. The base premise, on paper, is not terrible (though again suffers from being utterly nonsensical) -- security guy has to keep an eye on the roaming animatronics using a camera system, and shut the two doors to his office if they wander close by. This is complicated by the restaurant having the most janky power system in the world, apparently running on a battery that is constantly leaking power and will deplete at an alarming rate in order to hold the office doors closed.

Minus the threat of getting killed, however, there's nothing to make the gameplay interesting in its own right. It's virtually a direct copy of Night Trap, except it's even less interesting as it doesn't have the traps, security code changes or girls dancing in their underwear. The design of the characters and the use of sound and lighting are admirable in their creepiness, but it's only really effective at the very beginning when you don't fully understand what's going on. Once you clock the game's relatively simple AI patterns, you're left with almost nothing to do. Though the creatures sometimes zip around too fast to simply wait for them to appear in the doorway or look for them only in the hallways and rooms directly adjacent to your office, you don't really have to look much farther than that to keep effective tabs on them. Once you've noticed this you'll breeze through every night at Freddy's, and devoid of the pop-scares, there's absolutely nothing else of interest going on here.

Freddy probably wasn't designed for you if you read sites like this, though. It was very carefully and skillfully crafted to appeal to the sizable PewDiePie audience, the kids that make videos and watch videos of people screaming at Slenderman. It's shallow horror and shallow gameplay pitched perfectly to an equally shallow culture. That's the one way in which it's really genius -- in its reading of this free-spending audience of millions that exists in this particular cultural moment and delivering them up exactly the sort of experience they want.
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